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Your Clear Roadmap to Financial Nirvana

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Although most of us might day-dream about winning the lottery or suddenly inheriting a million dollars from a mysterious benefactor, the reality is that accumulating wealth takes time, patience, self-discipline, and intentional planning for the future.

Even Nature reveals this pattern. A huge oak tree doesn’t spring up overnight. It grows and develops over time. In the same way, the path to financial freedom and living life on your terms requires a clear roadmap. This brief guide will help you see the big picture, so you can take the right steps now, in order to live well in your desired future.

Real estate investing is my favorite investment tool. I love it because during market corrections, if you buy right, it prevents you from needing to cash out. Instead, you can protect your financial future with rental income (the “dividend” of your investment), rather than relying on the value of the real estate.

All of us understand the power of real estate investing and, if done right, the rental income can ultimately fund your life.

Sadly though, this takes time …

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the real estate ride!

I want to share with you how you can enjoy the journey as you reach different phases in your life.

Rather than letting life pass you by, you can be super-intentional in living your life—so you can live your life the way you want to live it.

That’s why I want to share with you a retirement roadmap that I built. You can build your own or copy mine, but the point is that you will know where you are. You can easily figure out which phase to jump to and why, so you can ultimately reach your vision!


Phase 1 –Build a Strong Platform:

This is where you build financially healthy habits by slashing debt like a ninja and maintaining discipline. You decide to live under your means and monetize your skills as much as possible.

Right after I graduated from university, I had student debt and I was living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada. Rather than accepting that it would take many years to slash this debt, I decided to be creative and to build multiple streams of income.

I found a cheap place to rent and I used my engineering salary to pay for my expenses. The surplus after expenses was invested in whole life insurance and stocks to start a small savings account. I also busted my butt for two years as a tutor and a model to pay off my student debt.

I rental hacked with room mates and paid cheap rent.

Here are a few indicators that you’ve reached this milestone:

– You have no unproductive debt (ex: no student loans, car loans, credit cards)

– You have emergency cash funds

– You have a career or in-demand skills that pay you well, with stability


Phase 2 – Grow Your Financial Fortress:

Earn more, spend less, and invest like a rock star. When you are young (especially if you don’t have children) or you have many years ahead of you, this is the time to take the greatest risks, because you have time on your hands to handle volatility and recover from bad periods. Invest in securities like stocks, or businesses, or real estate—or all of the above!

I focused on real estate. With a double income and no kids, my husband and I decided to repurpose our incomes. My husband paid for most of our life and housing expenses. The majority of my salary went straight into savings, purchasing real estate properties, and renovations. We became landlords by buying a new home and renting out our principle home: twice.

We also rented out the apartment in our home, which paid for our vacations and property taxes.

Here are a few indicators that you’ve reached this milestone:

– You have rental properties

– Your bank account is growing with cashflow, such that you don’t use it to live because you have a career or stable job to fund life

– Your net worth is growing because of your real estate investments


Phase 3 – Have Your Fortress Start Paying You:

Start enjoying the fruits of your labor by using your investment income to accomplish your goals like: going back to school, going on a nice vacation, taking breaks in life, or achieving other specific goals in your plan.

Ask yourself: What can you do right now with your investment income to accomplish your goals?

We took part-time university courses, went on several vacations, and when we decided to start a family, we prioritized the rental income to pay for our nanny: a dream come true.

Here are a few indicators that you’ve reached this milestone:

– You can take a ‘pause’ in life by spending the cashflow that you’ve accumulated from your rental properties without financially stretching you

– You’ve accumulated enough cashflow, or periodically felt like you’re living mortgage-free because the cashflow you’ve built has partly, or totally, paid off your monthly mortgage payments in your own home (ex: the cashflow is the equivalent to your mortgage or helping pay down your mortgage)

– You have a sizeable reserve fund for all your rental properties to cover capital expenses


Phase 4 – Build Your Safe Haven:

Protect your investments so you can continue your new journey forever! We all know that life throws curve balls and if you have children, they can be expensive, so be prepared—to the best of your ability—with contingency plans. Continue to live under your means, earn extra side income and use that income to reduce risks to your wealth.

At this stage, you might want to transfer your investments to safer vehicles, or aggressively pay down mortgages or consolidate your investments to reduce liability.

You don’t have to be financially independent to gain more flexibility and freedom. Even if you’re not close to your magic number for rental income, you can still be “semi-retired” or “mini-retired”.

Here are a few indicators that you’ve reached this milestone:

– You have enough cashflow or other income to pay for basic living expenses where it doesn’t require you to work all the time. 

– You have a sizeable net worth which gives you confidence and courage to change directions in life because of your awesome discipline and habits, if you choose to do so.

– You have financial options in life because you’ve accumulated smart investments like rental properties which have a lot of equity.  For example, you can sell a rental property to pay off your own mortgage, or you can sell a property or two to pay off another rental property, or you’ve accumulated lots of equity to grow even more if you want too!


Phase 5 – Reach Your Financial Nirvana:

At this point, all your hard work pays off! Because of your smart choices and your determination, this could be full retirement, or whatever you want! This is where all your life choices are on your terms because you have enough investment income to live comfortably and cover all of your family or current needs.

To reach this level, you should focus on consolidating your real estate properties to have only a few paid out mortgages, which will drive up your cashflow.  Or, you can sell a few properties and upgrade to a bigger property that commands more cashflow.

When you reach this stage, you can decide to stop working for good and enjoy a full retirement—whether it’s volunteering, travelling and/or spending time with family. You can start drawing down from your retirement fund/pension when you choose to do so (or when you’re forced to by the government!).

Here are a few indicators that you’ve reached this milestone:

– You have no mortgage debt or very little mortgage debt (your mortgage debt is a very small percentage)

– You have enough cashflow to fund more than your basic living expenses

– You have a sizeable net worth such that you can sell, or live off the equity and/or cashflow, to fund your lifestyle

Some of the phases are purely optional, like phase 3. It really depends on what your values and goals are in life. Although it can be tempting to retire early or fully in Phase 5—and sip margaritas all day—that might get boring and it’s hard to just ‘stop’ working if you had a fulfilling career, or have been going full blast, all your life.

If you are close to Phase 5, think of what interest-based work you want to pursue, and to keep learning because when you reach this stage, you might be in that stage for many, many decades.

Personally, I plan to keep working in fulfilling careers until my body caves in and forces me to ‘retire’! This is not for everyone and it really depends on what you want out of retirement.

A key point about wealth building is that it’s great to scale for a certain amount of time, but then you might want to scale back.

Think of it like your student loans: you needed them to invest in school, but then at some point after graduation, you finished with school (the investment) and now you must pay if off.

Whether you’ve moved into a different career path, yearn for simplicity in your life, or are planning for retirement and or want more security, you’ll want to boost your cashflow and achieve a lower LTV (loan to value) ratio in your portfolio.

I’m confident that you can achieve the life you want, with some careful planning and strategic actions, depending on what stage of financial growth you’re in!


Here’s a one page financial plan you can start building your retirement snowball.

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